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Dear all,

find below a posting that I received this morning via a collegue from a
seagrass discussion list.

cheers Britta

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Reply-To: [log in to unmask]
For those seagrass researchers working in the So Cal region, beware!

Noxious seaweed found in California
July 6, 2000
Web posted at: 6:38 AM EDT (1038 GMT)

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- An algae that has destroyed habitat in European waters has
been discovered near San Diego, the first time it has been confirmed on the
west coast of the Americas.
"This algae eliminates kelp beds and poses an extreme danger to flora and
fauna in the area," said Bob Hoffmann, Southern California environmental
coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The algae, Caulerpa taxifolia, ruined more than 10,000 acres of
Mediterranean Sea habitat near France, Spain, Monaco and Italy after patches
found in the 1980s were not immediately destroyed.
Caulerpa has proven toxic to most sea life, forcing fish to go elsewhere and
harming fisheries. Mediterranean scuba diving sites are being smothered by
the plant, as are Riviera pleasure ports.
Divers discovered the algae near San Diego on June 12 while monitoring eel
grass for the Cabrillo Power Plant I, which has pledged to restore habitat
20 miles north of San Diego.
For now, the Caulerpa has only been found in Agua Hedionda, with the largest
patch measuring 60 feet by 30 feet. It will be destroyed.
The bright green, feather-like algae was commonly sold for use in aquariums
until it was banned last year by federal law. Hoffmann believes the algae
likely ended up in the sea here after someone emptied the contents of their
aquarium into a storm drain or the lagoon.
The plant is native to tropical waters, where it grows in small, isolated
patches. To those who have seen what it has done to ecosystems around the
world, the Caulerpa is a serious threat.
"Effects on commercial and recreation fishing in the coastal areas would be
severe," Hoffmann said. "This is a very fast-growing species."
The plant was introduced to an aquarium in Stuttgart, Germany, in the 1980s
and then to aquariums in Europe, Japan and South Africa. There is
speculation that it genetically mutated, perhaps because of exposure to the
ultraviolet light used in aquariums.

Matthew R. Colmer Texas A&M University, Galveston
Post-doctoral Fellow Department of Maritime Administration
(409) 740-4822 P.O. Box 1675
Fax (409) 740-4983 Galveston, TX 77553-1675
email: [log in to unmask]
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Dr Britta Schaffelke
CSIRO Marine Research - Centre for Research on Introduced Marine Pests (CRIMP)
GPO Box 1538
Hobart TAS 7001
Australia

Phone (++61) 3 6232 5407, mobile 0419 336817
Fax     (++61) 3 6232 5485

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